Lots to Share My Friends
Marco Island was the setting and what an incredible setting it was. It was 20 degrees in Oregon all week, windy and crisp. But in Marco, it was in the mid-80’s and sunny. Not that I got to experience much of the sun. We had a jam-packed week of content rich sessions and enjoyable networking.
Prior to the ACCESS event, as a member of the EDPA Board of Directors, I participated in a motivating Board Meeting with my fellow Board Members. We caught up on the association’s initiatives as well as spent a lot of time charting the continued course of the association, a course that includes a magnificent new EDPA Certification project that was launched at this year’s event. Gwen Hill from Exhibitforce did an incredible job laying out this certification process. Think of it as a “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for exhibit builders which will remove much of daunting detail gathering we all go through in the RFP process with customers. Exciting stuff!
The event started in the sun at the annual EDPA Golf Outing, proudly sponsored in part by Classic Exhibits. The weather was beautiful and the course was challenging. But, the really challenging part was all the freaking gators and not just little baby gators — 6′, 7′, and 8′ gators. A shot near the water’s edge certainly left you questioning whether or not it was really worth $5 to retrieve your ball.
The Golf Outing benefits the EDPA Foundation. Something I am truly passionate about. Proud to say that a lot of money was raised for the foundation and its future good works.
Later on Wednesday, the ACCESS event took off with the opening reception and opening of the Showcase (exhibit hall). More than 300 industry professionals descended on the Showcase to preview all the suppliers showing off their wares. Classic Exhibits was a proud participant showing off our SuperNova LED Backlighting in a 10 x 20 back wall. We were also debuting a great new counter and stool unit from OTM (On The Move). More to come on that in the coming weeks, but suffice to say, it was a real hit!
Thursday morning started with a breakfast meeting with the entire member group and a great welcome from then president Justin Hersh. After that, I was off to Speed Networking, an hour long session where you got two minutes to network with someone at your table, then every two minutes the tables shifted to another person. It was a great way for me to meet many new members and some old friends and get a feel for who they were and what they did. Truly a smart format for meeting a lot of people in the course of one jam-packed hour.
I attended many sessions Thursday but the other highlight session for me was the “Partnering With Contractors and Show Management” session. After more than 19 years of being in this industry, this was the first time I remember ever having the Builders, the Show Managers, and the General Contractors all in one room to talk about how we can ALL work together to fix many of the issues that end users experience when attending trade shows. I commend both Jay Atherton from Freeman and David Audrain from Clarion Events for their candor, honesty, and their accountability for some of the issues we see and hear about every day from our clients.
Friday was no different. I attended many sessions, even presented one myself — “Leveraging Your Partnerships with Portable/Modular System Providers.” The session went very well and was well attended. I thank all the attendees for their willingness to be active participants. Chris Lake from Highmark was my co-presenter. We used the platform as a way to help explain the benefits that many Custom Houses and Distributors recognize when they partner with companies like Classic to help design and build for their clients 800 square foot and smaller opportunities. Along with Trust, Quality, and a Delivery as key bennies, Margin Predictably was clearly a huge benefit most appreciate in their partner builds.
The event overall was a huge success. The “Not-so-Silent Auction” raised money for the foundation. And the student programs at FIT and Bemidji State University were highlights as well. We even got to see a film that included pictures of our own Trina Broten, who graduated from the Bemidji program. It was a proud moment.
For those who could not be there, you really need to consider joining EDPA. The professional development and professional connections you can make with partners and competitors alike is really well worth it.
This was yet another year where I left the EDPA Annual Meeting feel genuinely proud of my membership and participation on the Board of Directors.
To my EDPA family and friends, it was great to see you, and I want to thank you again for all the new insights you helped me realize at this year’s event and sessions. I always feel like I leave these events with more tools in my management toolbox that hopefully help me be a better leader and help Classic Exhibits be an even better organization to serve its distributors and employees.
Hope you had a great week and look forward to sharing more with you as we talk in the coming weeks. For more photos of EDPA Access, please see our Facebook page.